I could see it now. Cot Campbell and Palace Malice on the street corner just outside of Saratoga. Palace Malice nudges a tin cup towards the walkers-by, while Cot repeats over and over again in his southern twang, “Hey brother, can you spare a dime?”
Palace Malice is now officially down and out in Saratoga Springs. Forget the four starts with four graded stakes wins against older males to start the season, it seems everyone else has. Currently mired in a heinous one-race losing streak, it’s a wonder how the once mighty son of Curlin gets out of bed in the morning.
After the Mighty Malice struck out at bat in one-two-three swings in front of a national television audience in the Whitney Handicap, I was ready to make him pay on my weekly ballot for the NTRA Top 10.
Let’s see, how many horses could leapfrog over my last week’s #1? (Maybe I could even eliminate him from my Top 10 altogether as to avoid the embarrassment of having the beaten Whitney favorite show up two days after his megafail.)
California Chrome would seem to be an obvious starting point. He did win five races this year, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness after all, even if they all were limited to three-year-olds. Wait a minute, he finished out of the money in his last start as well. Hmmm. That would also knock out the super three-year-old filly, Untapable, too, because I just saw her finish fifth in the Haskell the week before.
What’s with all these poll topping horses losing a race? I just don’t get it.
Wise Dan. He’s the ticket. He didn’t lose his last race. Of course, Wise Dan has only run two races this year, and hasn’t exactly beaten any world beaters in those two grass races. Or what about Close Hatches? No losses on her 2014 resume either. But then again, she has only raced against females, and only in the Phipps did she run against the best of her gender. If you want to put either of them ahead of Palace Malice because of his one bad race, more power to you, but I don’t believe either has done enough this year to surpass his 4-for-5 season. And don't even get me started on Shared Belief's allowance and Los Al Derby, two-start season.
There has to be someone who has earned the top spot … Game On Dude looked great in the Big Cap, Bayern was a monster in the Haskell, and how about the Whitney winner himself, Moreno. All good horses in their own right, but at 1-for-4, one lifetime win around two-turns, and 1-for-5, respectively, I cannot in good consciousness jump them ahead of Palace Malice either.
From champ to chump in one start? Boy, we are a fickle lot. Horses are not machines. They are allowed a bad day just like the rest of us. Palace Malice remains #1 on my NTRA ballot.